How To Get Your Kids To Brush Their Teeth

I learned two lessons from the events behind today’s post:

1. Don’t ignore chronic tooth pain.
2. Our kids learn more from us than we think they do.

Last weekend started in typical celebratory fashion with good food and even better drink. I stayed up late to catch up on blogging and settled in for a nice, long slumber. That is until three thirty in the morning when I awoke to the most excruciating pain I’ve experienced since childbirth. The disturbing part? The pain was in my mouth!

To make a very long story short, my wisdom teeth were impacted, infected and needed to be removed ASAP. I felt like a first-class moron because my teeth had been bothering me for some time but like the good mommy that I am, I’d just pop an Advil and get on with my day. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best course of action.

Waiting for the antibiotics to kick in was pure hell and unfortunately, my son witnessed the torture first-hand. He heard every scream, howl and whispered curse word as I tried to consume anything more substantial than a protein shake. I can be a drama queen when appropriate so I recognize that I was probably overreacting. However, in my defense, I was in pain, like really horrendous pain!

I didn’t love the fact that my son saw me acting like a side show act but I’m going to chalk it up as one of those few times in my mommy life when I’m allowed a free pass to act however the heck I want to. Again, the pain was really that bad.

After a few days the antibiotics worked their magic and life was beautiful again. As I started making breakfast one morning I heard the unfamiliar sound of water running in the bathroom. My husband had already left for work and I assumed Bug was still sleeping. Therefore, we were either being robbed or the dog had decided to give herself a facial.

What I saw as I opened the bathroom door surprised me more than either of the two above mentioned scenarios.

My son was brushing his teeth.

Now, I should preface the rest of this tale by stating that Bug hates brushing his teeth. He’s been known to wet his toothbrush without brushing. He’s also good for sitting in the bathroom for five minutes with the water running; only to exit with his breath still smelling like rotten mushrooms. Yup, this kid is a master manipulator.

However, this particular morning was the exception. Bug was physically brushing his teeth with real toothpaste and actually seemed to be enjoying the exercise.

“What are you doing,” I coyly asked.
“Brushing my teeth,” he replied through a mouth full of water and toothpaste.
“Why,” I asked, “you hate brushing your teeth”.
“I know,” he said, “but it’s better than having the dentist use the big drill to pull out your rotten ones”.

So, there you have it. It took several years of begging, a midnight Orajel run and a wisdom tooth infection to finally get my child to voluntarily brush his teeth.

Bug has become quite the little dentist. He’s taken to watching online videos about dental hygiene and sharing where I may have failed to keep up with my own.

I may be naive here but I can honestly say that I've discounted just how much our children learn from our every day choices. I’m happy it’s a lesson I learned when my son was seven and not seventeen. Thankfully, there are plenty of years ahead to set a good example.

For the record, my teeth are not rotten, they are impacted and I do brush them three times a day. However, from now on, I think I’ll make it four. Also, I am fully aware that having a gum infection is not the best way to promote childhood dental wellness.

This post was originally published on Express Bus Mama.

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